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March 8, 2006

Dave Bliss

Dennis Felton

Levi Stukes


THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Felton if he will begin with some thoughts on Georgia's first game; then we'll take some questions from the players and then finish with coach.
COACH FELTON: We're excited about getting started with postseason. Tournament time is a lot of fun, especially in a league like the SEC that attracts so much attention and so much fan interest. It will be interesting playing in a small venue for us here in Nashville, a beautiful venue, but a small venue compared to the Georgia Dome. I think it's going to make for that much more of an exciting atmosphere. It is ironic that we're playing a team that we just finished playing in Arkansas a few days ago. They are very very strong challenge for us. We have already found that out and we're looking forward to it. I think they are extremely talented, very, very athletic, terrific attacking the rim and the open court, and well coached and playing with a lot of momentum on their side right now. They have let up to this point in the season with a lot of tremendous wins and we're very excited about the game and about the tournament and about postseason, but I am sure they are extremely excited too about what they feel like they are poised to do. So it should be a terrific game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the two student athletes.
Q. You guys had success holding their Biggs down, Charles Thomas got a lot of scrappy points but otherwise you guys did a nice job. Why is that, what were you able to do to them?
DAVE BLISS: We just try to be aggressive coming out early and limit their touches, not let them get easy post position and force them to make a move to go to the rim rather than just get layup things like that. No easy transition baskets. We'll look to do the same thing again.
Q. Did you feel -- pretty physical game, feel like you got in their heads a little bit?
DAVE BLISS: I mean, that's my style, just playing physical, so I am not going to change that, or try and get in anyone's head. Just playing the game.
Q. Both players, it seem like there was a lack of effort or motivation or something in the last game Arkansas players said they will be more motivated this time. Can you put any reasoning on or was there a lack of effort in the last game?
DAVE BLISS: I thought we played poorly and that was reflected in the score, but I don't think there's a lack of effort, that's not characteristic of our team, and certainly we're going to put forth a good effort here on Thursday, tomorrow night, and give them what we got.
LEVI STUKES: Me, personally, feel the same way as Dave, coming out to every game I think we come with aggressiveness and energy that we need to come out and play with. Myself, I try to give us a boost on offense as well as on defense, by pushing -- giving the guards a hard time to catch the ball on the perimeter. But like Coach Felton said, they are a great team. They got great coaching, they run their offense well, the Biggs really scream for them and Modica and Brewer, they really come off those screens to score, they use the screen as well as they can. With the big loss to them we want to just come out and just look at some of the things that we might -- can improve in and just give them a heart filled game this time around.
THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse you fellows back to the locker room. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Felton.
Q. What advantage or disadvantage in playing just four days ago this team, how do you prepare for this next meeting? Do you look at video that much from that ball game?
COACH FELTON: Yeah, we do. I think it's easier to prepare for -- it's fresh in all of our minds, the players included, unlike the first time we played them now we have a personal experience against them other than trying to dissect them against other opponents, we get to dissect what went on in a game against us, and it just happened. I don't think either team has any advantage or disadvantage because we're in the same boat. We both just played each other and we both have to get ready to play each other again. We weren't surprised by anything in the first game. In other words, they didn't do anything new or tricky that they -- that they hadn't already done at any point earlier in the season, but we do have a chance to evaluate how we performed against certain things that they do and we might have a chance to reconsider how we might need to do better -- to be better in certain areas to have a better outcome.
Q. With Brewer and Ferguson kind of sharing the point guard, for Arkansas now, on the court at the same time, does that present any extra difficulties for your team, or does it really matter?
COACH FELTON: I don't know if the position they play makes a big difference. Both of them have scoring mentalities. The challenge is the fact that they are both really good players and they are good scorers.
Brewer can do just about everything that a good basketball player needs to do and he has got -- he's very long and athletic. He has got tremendous size to do it. So he's really, really a handful.
Then Ferguson is very aggressive offensively. He can shoot the three deep. He's an explosive driver going in either direction and he's aggressive. He aggressively seeks out opportunities to score. So he's a handful as well.
Q. How would you assess Arkansas's confidence level from what you saw last Sunday?
COACH FELTON: Well, I'd imagine that their confidence level is very high based on their experiences. This season has been a tremendous season for them, but especially here recently. I mean, they have had great wins over very, very good competition in our league and have -- they have done what they needed to do to earn an invitation to the NCAA tournament. They are a program that has been growing and I'd say they have been turning corners all along since Coach Heath has been there but they have really turned some major corners for themselves in their program here in recent weeks. So I'd assume that they have a lot to feel good about, a lot to be excited about. Then when you just look at the makeup of their team, they have got terrific parts. They have got terrific size. They are athletic as they ever need to be. They can shoot. They can drive. They can run in transition. They have the athleticism to defend well and rebound well.
So they have a lot to be excited about.
Q. What has been some of y'all strong points this year that maybe didn't show in last Sunday?
COACH FELTON: Well, we normally play with more aggression and competitiveness than we did for stretches of Sunday's game. We can normally put the ball in the basket a little better than we did. I almost felt like we got dispirited a little bit when we did have trouble making some shots, some easier shots that we normally could have made, that might have impacted the game and just overall, you know, we just didn't -- and it is not -- but it's not -- it's not the only time all season where we came out and could say, okay, we didn't play as well as we'd like to; we're a very young team, extremely young team, and we're learning a lot of things for the first time and one thing I think we're learning is how long the college basketball season is. We count on a lot of guys who are playing their first college basketball season and I think both mental and physical fatigue and maybe mental than physical could be factoring into our season a little bit, but we have -- we're competitive. We fight well and we can -- we can do a lot of things, I think, better than we did in the first game against Arkansas.
Q. How similar, really, is your situation at Georgia to what Jeff is going through at Auburn in terms of the program, what you are trying to do, changing the culture, and being very young or very small in his case this year -- last year, would there be very strong comparisons to where Georgia and Auburn --
COACH FELTON: I think there are a lot of similarities. One of the very, very toughest parts about our situation was that the lack of players. We didn't have players in the program. We had four good players, really good players when we first got there and that was it. They were all seniors. So we were in a position where we were literally having to start over a couple of times, not just once. And at the same time, we had the very, very bad NCAA rule in place limiting how many guys we can sign but then on top of it, we were not one of the most popular destinations in college basketball because we had been highly publicized, full blown scandle to endure, you know, that -- that was the biggest part of our reputation for a year or two, just the fact that we had problems at George.
And then we had the ongoing NCAA investigation and time period to wait to find out the outcome, you know, of our investigation.
Then when the outcome came it was more severe than we ever thought it would be and then we had used up another segment of a year to appeal and recover some of that which was taken from us in the original judgment.
So we were very, very, very talent poor and we were in a situation where we weren't -- it was difficult to recruit at a competitive level to Georgia because of all our problems and because of our profile, and the reality of who needs to fool with a school that has all these problems when I have all these other choices, good choices, so that kind of continues to be the most difficult part of the situation to recover from.
I think you look both at our team and Auburn's team, we're counting a lot on younger guys, and not necessarily the kind of young guys that can come in and lead you to Championships. We have the best players that we could get in our situation and good, good players and developing players but not the kind of guys that are ready to come in and take a place by Storm. And basically come in and compete against sophomores, juniors and seniors who are very accomplished players. I think of like North Carolina Tyler Hansboro, a little different, North Carolina is young but their talent level of those young guys -- I have heard a lot of coaches say, I am more concerned with talent than youth. I am the same way. It really comes down to talent more importantly than anything, so, yeah, to answer your question, I think there are some direct similarities in our situations.

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